Buffs Nation is mourning the loss of one of its own after former Colorado defensive back Donnell Leomiti passed away on the Fourth of July after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Leomiti played safety for the Buffs in the 1990s and rose to prominence as an assistant coach with Division II CSU-Pueblo. Leomiti had been a part of the ThunderWolves’ staff since 2008, when CSU-Pueblo rebooted its dormant football program.
Leomiti manned the defensive backfield for the Buffs from 1993 through 1995, recording all three of his career interceptions during the 1994 season. He was the third-leading tackler for CU during the 1995 season, with his 98 tackles including 2.5 sacks. Leomiti produced two huge individual highlights during a ’94 season that saw CU finish third in the final AP poll, as he returned an interception for a touchdown in a win at Missouri and recovered a key fourth quarter fumble during the “Miracle at Michigan.”
Leomiti began his coaching career at the prep level and spent four years at Boulder High before returning to CU as a defensive coaching intern for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Leomiti followed a former Gary Barnett-era CU assistant, John Wristen, when he took over CSU-Pueblo’s revived program, and Leomiti was a key figure in the ThunderWolves’ rise to national prominence.
Leomiti had been CSU-Pueblo’s defensive backs coach since 2008, and in 2017 he took over co-defensive coordinator duties. He was the sole defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019. The ThunderWolves’ defense led the nation in interceptions four times between 2011 and 2019.
In 2019, Leomiti was named the Division II Assistant of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association. That season, Leomiti’s defense led all of Division II in forced turnovers (39), interceptions (30), and defensive touchdowns (9) while ranking fifth in scoring defense (15.0).
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help support the Leomiti family.